'Kubla Khan,' and the First Part of 'Christabel.' 'The Ancient Mariner' was planned by Coleridge and Wordsworth on one of their frequent rambles, and was to have been written in collaboration; but as it proceeded, Wordsworth found his manner so different from that of Coleridge that he withdrew altogether from the undertaking.
'Christabel' achieves what Coleridge himself described as the very difficult task of creating witchery by daylight; and 'Kubla Khan,' worthy, though a brief fragment, to rank with these two, is a marvelous glimpse of fairyland.
It was when Kubla Khan
had decreed his "stately pleasure dome" -- when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu -- that he
Literary lore has it that Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote "Kubla Khan
" under the spell of opium, that Edgar Allan Poe could write better if he were drunk, or that Gabriel Garcia Marquez could only write if there was a pot of yellow roses on his writing table.
1816 - Poems by Samuel Taylor Coleridge published by John Murray in London, including Kubla Khan
THE ORGANIZATION OF SOUND IN "KUBLA KHAN
" IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ignore--and yet generations of critics have studiously done just that: ignored it.
Some are pinched from his other famous set of verses, Kubla Khan
. These two poems are both over 200 years old and are still revered as some of the best poetry ever written.
Listen to an example from the reading of "Kubla Khan
" (Coleridge, "Kubla Khan
") by Michael Sheen (Coleridge, "Kubla Khan
Examples of these are the discovery of the molecular formula for benzene, the development of the sewing machine and the writing of the great poem 'Kubla Khan
.' They were all the direct results of dreams.
Must we all jump into a Kubla Khan
* and join the dream
2) The stage of "unconscious cerebration": the material accumulated through focusing one's mind on a certain field "sinks" into the "subliminal self," forming "new and unexpected associations." In this sense, Coleridge is said by Lowes to have written Kubla Khan
and The Ancient Mariner as a result of his many readings in the field of travel literature, the material thus accumulated being "magically modified" in the "deep well of unconscious cerebration." However, Lowes does not specify whether this "magic" was itself opium-induced in both cases, of Kubla Khan
and The Ancient Mariner: Abrams (1971a) will clarify this matter definitively (see infra).